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Monday, November 29th
Memrise was founded in 2010 and has more than 60 million users in 189 countries worldwide. One of the biggest appeals of this platform is its use of thousands of video clips of native speakers - recorded right where they live! It's a great way to hear Portuguese how it's currently being spoken on the streets of Sao Paulo or Porto. (Note: at the time of this review, only the Portugal-based Portuguese Memrise courses seemed to have native speaker video clips as part of the lessons.)
Choose between Portugal and Brazil
Unlike many platforms offering Portuguese lessons, Memrise doesn't assume you only want to learn to speak it the way they do in Rio de Janeiro (or Lisbon): you get to choose which one you prefer! That's a plus if you anticipate mostly speaking with people from one place or the other, but might be a drawback if you want to get a good foundation in the way it's used in both places. (Or what if you're planning on using it in Mozambique? Which one should you choose?) Still, it's a good thing overall to be able to learn Portuguese with a specific accent, so that your spoken language doesn't come out sounding like a muddled mess!
Up to 7 levels of Portuguese lessons
Either selection will give you access to 7 levels of Portuguese lessons. You can choose to start from the beginning or with any of the other 6 levels; unfortunately, there's no placement test to help you make that decision accurately. We chose the highest level to try the free features.
Not many grammar lessons or cultural explanations
Memrise places heavy emphasis on words and phrases. Even at the highest level, we were given fairly easy vocabulary and then phrases in which they're used. We liked that there were some colloquial phrases (like "let's get things back on track" ) that we probably wouldn't just pick up on our own. But, if you're looking for detailed grammatical explanations or cultural insights, Memrise doesn't really offer those.
User-created content available too
Memrise's Portuguese content feels a little limited - until you discover the Courses tab. Not only can you access sets of vocabulary created by the Memrise team, but also ones made by users just like you. We're not sure how useful they really are at the end of the day, but it does give you another way to get Portuguese lessons beyond what Memrise itself provides.
Wait for a discount?
You can access Memrise's premium Portuguese lessons for $8.99/month or $90/year. Helpful hint: sometimes Memrise puts their lifetime membership on mega-sale (like around the holidays). It's already pretty affordable at $139.99, but why not save up to 50% if a discount is just around the corner? It's also your best option if you're trying to be a polyglot, because the lifetime membership includes access to every language on the Memrise platform.
More information, please!
What else do you get with a paid subscription? Memrise doesn't really make that obvious. Depending on which Portuguese course you choose, you might get access to those native speaker videos, chatbots for practicing conversation, statistics about how much you've studied, and access to vocabulary exercises to practice what you missed before. You also get more control over which types of exercises you work on (writing, reading, etc.). We'd really like to see Memrise spell out the perks a little more explicitly before we'd fork over the cash to become a member.
Use the free features before subscribing
At the end of the day, Memrise can be a way to start memorizing some useful words and phrases, but it lacks the organization you'll find with many other Portuguese lessons. You've got nothing to lose by working through the free content, but most learners will probably find themselves using a different platform for grammar explanations, culture lessons, and detailed lesson plans.
Maybe you're enchanted by the images of carnaval and your dream is to see it in person someday. Or you live in a tourist destination frequently visited by Brazilians and it would help you in your job to be able to speak Portuguese. Whether your interest in the language is for business or pleasure, it's important to know how to go about learning it!
The truth is, not many places offer Portuguese classes (unless you live near a university). It should come as no surprise that the majority of people learning it today are doing so online! From one-on-one tutoring to fun apps you can use on the go, there's no shortage of ways to improve your fluency and get ready to have actual conversations in Portuguese.
Which Portuguese lessons are right for you? The first consideration is your current level of knowledge. Some providers are best-suited to beginners because they don't offer much beyond the basics of "Oi, tudo bem?" and "Eu gosto de comer frango" . You'll want to select a language service that has the right level and quantity of content for as long as you expect to study Portuguese.
Another important factor is how you prefer to learn. Some students want their lessons to be as game-like as possible, with lots of points, badges, and leaderboards. Others feel more comfortable with a traditional, straightforward approach: detailed grammatical lessons (preferably in English first!), lots of repetition, and no competition with other students. There are Portuguese lessons that suit both of those learning styles - and a few that even combine them!
Once you've identified a few good choices for your language learning, here are some criteria you can use to help make your final selection:
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